Cassette, Compact Disc (CD)
With elements of Appalachian balladry, Eastern European polyphony, Celtic folklore, and gospel church singing in tow, Bellingham, Washington quartet Doran (Elizabeth LaPrelle, Channing Showalter, Annie Schermer, and Brian Dolphin) have crafted a freak-folk Frankenstein’s monster with a similar smorgasbord of aesthetics as Fleet Foxes and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. However, Doran are not simply poster children for a folk revival, instead offering an empathetic attention to detail and appreciation for the cultural soundscapes present throughout their music.
Their eponymous debut was recorded in a Virginia attic after the group “buried their bodies in leaves” and “pulled tarot.” But its existence comes on the heels of a creative energy derived from one of Yoko Ono’s songwriting prompts: Write songs on unfamiliar instruments. The results are tracks with rich, haunted vocals and experimental melodies derived from more traditional idioms. On “Down the Road,” LaPrelle plays a mountain dulcimer while singing of meditative hitchhiking; on “Solstice,” Showalter’s voice is her instrument as she contemplates the 2018 winter solstice. Schermer’s autumnal “Boy/Moon” features harmonium, while “Bonefolder” showcases a mesmerizing violin. Elsewhere the group pairs minimalistic backing tracks with similarly stark lyrics—most notably on “And We Are Going,” where Dolphin sings, “And we are going where we wanted to,” over and over. He doesn’t elaborate, but he doesn’t need to, instead inviting the listener to satisfy their own curiosity.